May 11, 2012; Lake Forest, IL, USA; Chicago Bears defensive end Shea McClellin during rookie minicamp at Halas Hall. Mandatory Credit: Jerry Lai-US PRESSWIRE
A rookie kicking off my top 10 Most Important Bears list? I'll admit it took me by surprise a bit too, but in listing them, then re-listing, and moving guys around, I just couldn't leave the rookie defensive end off the list. The Bears need Shea McClellin to play like the 1st round pass rushing specialist he was drafted to be.
Last year the pass rush was a glaring need for the Bears, and whether McClellin ends up beating out Israel Idonije to start opposite Julius Peppers or plays as the rotational 3rd DE, the Bears desperately need an uptick in production from the position.
Chicago starting defensive ends, Peppers and Idonije, are playing far too many snaps. Even with as great a player as Peppers is he still needs to rest his 32 year old body. And Idonije seemed to wear down both this year and last. Enter the Bears #1 Draft Pick. I wasn't surprised in the least when they went pass rusher in the first round. In a passing league you better be able to get after the quarterback, and the Bears need (there's that word again) better production from the front four to make the Tampa 2 go.
Did the Bears even have a legit 3rd DE last year? Nick Reed, Chauncey Davis, really? And I've about given up on Corey Wootton. I thought after fully recovering from his knee injury he would be able to step in and be the 3rd guy to get snaps, but it's looking like his career peaked at 'Favre Killer'.
Best case scenario is McClellin comes in and plays so well during camp and preseason that he makes it so the Bears have no choice but to start him. I'd also be perfectly fine if he played well enough to warrant being the situational pass rusher and spelling both DE spots. But if he struggles to get playing time as a rookie, the pressure will mount on the kid, and the draft bust label will be bandied about WCG as quick as you can say 'Another Lion arrested'.